Saturday, October 10, 2015

Trust and Peer Pressure

I was amazed in Germany, I bought a ticket for the subway, walked onto the platform and stuffed the ticket into my pocket.  I didn't need it to open fare-gates, I didn't need to validate it, I didn't need it to exit the system.  They trusted that if I boarded the train, I had paid.  While transit systems in the US spend millions trying to prevent fare jumpers and policing the entry gates, in Germany it is a part of the culture that if you are going to use public transit, you pay your share of the cost.  The guides said, if asked, you need to show a ticket, but that enforcement is rare.  Further reading was revealing.  Most public transit users are local - the same is true here - on the DC subway system locals outnumber tourists by at least 25 to 1.  In Germany the public embarrassment of being caught without proof of paying the fare, is enough to bring the vast majority in line. DC is about to commit to a very expensive upgrade of our fare collection system, what we need is a cultural change that eliminates the need for the system. Riding without paying is theft, and theft should be shameful, there should be nothing acceptable about being a thief or a thug.